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BenQ SU931 Large Venue Projector Review -- Hardware Tour

Posted on July 8, 2016 by Art Feierman
BENQ SU931 LARGE VENUE PROJECTOR REVIEW - HARDWARE TOUR: Overview, Size and Setup, Airflow, Image Size, Connectors, Remote Control, Web Control, Lens Far from portable, the SU931 is a full-bodied projector that is meant to be permanently installed in a facility. At 19-pounds, it’s surprisingly light, considering its output. On the other hand, its 5.9- by 17.5- by 13.2-inch dimensions are bulky and its best to have two people on hand to install it, particularly if it involves ladder work.


In addition to the projector and power cord, the SU931 comes with a VGA cable and its remote control with two AA batteries. There’s also a Quick Start guide and a CD that has the projector’s 74-page manual on it.

The most prominent part of the SU931 is the projector’s large chrome-plated lens barrel. It’s offset to the right from the front and the actual optics are safely recessed inside. There are well-marked focus and zoom rings at the end that are a little too close together for my taste, but you can’t adjust them from the remote control. Happily, the SU931 comes with a lens cap, something that’s becoming increasingly rare these days.

In addition to three adjustable feet, the projector has four attachment points underneath for mounting hardware. It works with generic equipment but BenQ has an inexpensive ceiling kit available.

It’s not for projecting in tight spots, though. That’s because the SU931 requires 20-inches of clearance on all sides to keep cooling air flowing. It can’t be set up at an angle of more than 10-degrees left-to-right or 15-degrees front-to-back, limiting its appeal.

Control Panel

The SU931’s control panel is simple and functional with a large on/off button and three-by-three square of keys. They control everything from entering and exiting the Menu to selecting the source and blanking the screen. There are dedicated buttons for adjusting the horizontal and vertical keystone correction, which should streamline its setup.

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Despite its small size, the SU931's control panel is simple, straight-forward and easy to figure out.

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In the back of the projector is an extensive connection panel that is recessed so it can be hard to see inside in the dark; my advice is to have a flashlight handy. All the connections are well marked and color coded and you won’t suffer the indignity of having hot exhaust air blow on you while trying to plug in a source.

In addition to a pair of HDMI ports, one of which can be connected to an MHL-ready phone or tablet, the SU931 has connections for Composite, Component, VGA and S-Video. About the only thing the projector lacks is a DisplayPort connection.

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The SU931's connectors are inset quite a bit from the back of the projector.

There’re several jacks for input and output audio, including a microphone input. The projector has both Type A and B USB connections in the back, but the SU931 can’t directly display material on a USB thumb drive.

If your room has a remotely controlled screen, the SU931 can send out 12-volts of electricity to power it open or close. Finally, the SU931 provides the choice of an RS-232 and a RJ-45 Ethernet port for controlling the projector remotely. Connecting wirelessly to a facility’s WiFi network is neither included nor an option with the SU931.

On the downside, BenQ doesn’t include a way to lock the AC cable in place or offer a cover to hide the warren of wires for a projector that will be in plain view.

Over the course of two weeks of daily use, the SU931 worked with a variety of source material, from spreadsheets and presentations to videos and Web sites. I used a Microsoft Surface 3, a Macbook Air, iPad Pro and a Pioneer DVD player. I also used a Geffen 8X8 HD switcher and a StarTech HDMI Pattern Generator to project sample images.

Remote Control

The SU931’s remote control is mostly black, except for a gray “T” control in the middle, but its keys aren’t backlit, a definite disadvantage when working in the dark. The 0.7- by 6.9- by 1.7-inch device fits comfortably in the hand, uses a pair of AA batteries and has a range of about 35 feet. The projector has infrared signal receptors front and back, but, unlike other mid-sized projectors, the SU931 can’t extend the reach of its remote control with an audio jumper cable.

At the top of the remote control are switches for turning the projector on and off as well as direct source keys for the inputs. Next down is a “T” control for navigating the Menu as well as ones for blanking the screen, picking the source from a list and automatically optimizing the image.In the middle is a button for activating the projector’s red laser pointer. This can be helpful for everything from pointing out items in a marketing presentation to highlighting areas that need attention while setting up the projector.

At the bottom are keys for the projector’s Quick Install routine in the Menu as well as ones for muting the audio and displaying the projector’s network’s settings. While the projector lacks the ability to run in split screen mode, the remote has a picture in picture button that doesn’t seem to do anything.

Click Image to Enlarge

Air Flow and Fan Noise

Fresh cooling air enters from its left side, flows over the system’s high-pressure lamp and out on the right side. The exhaust reached a hot 160-degrees Fahrenheit, but should be far enough away from the audience that it isn’t a problem.

The projector’s fan is always on and can get quite loud. Measured 36-inches from its exhaust grille, the SU931 registered 51dBA of fan noise, making it one of the loudest projectors in its class. Again, if it’s ceiling mounted, the projector should be far enough from the audience that this isn’t a major problem.

It takes a long 26 seconds to start up and another minute or two to get to full brightness. When you’re done, the SU931 takes an interminable 1 minute and 59 seconds to shut its fan off and go to sleep.

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The SU931's lamp module is rated at 2,000 hours of use and can be quickly changed

Changing the lamp is a snap that requires loosening three screws, pulling the old module out and inserting the new one. Figure on it taking about 2 minutes. The replacement can be safely on a ladder with the projector upside down. Happily, the SU931 doesn’t have an air filter that requires cleaning or periodic replacement.

Lens and Image Adjustments

BenQ SU931: Distance from lens to 100" diagonal 16:10 aspect ratio screen
Wide-angle (closest) 19 ft 3 inches
Telephoto (furthest) 30 ft 9 inch

The SU931 can create between a 5- and 20-foot image and can be set up as close as 55-inches from the screen and as far away as 29-feet. Unlike most projectors in its class, there are no optional lenses to suit different projection geometries and the system lacks a short throw option. On the other hand, the SU931 can be had for roughly the cost of a mid-priced lens.

As expected the SU931 can correct for vertical and horizontal keystone distortion, so the projector can still create a rectangular image even if it isn’t set up directly in front of and level with the screen. It can correct for up to 30-degrees up-down or right-left angles.

There are dedicated buttons to do this on the control panel and the remote, and the SU931 also has a Corner Fit program that lets you make the adjustments in a matter of about two minutes. When you’re done, you can use the SU931’s built-in grid test screen to make sure everything lines up squarely.

Its projected image is inclined slightly so that the bottom of the image is roughly level with the projector’s top. In addition to angling it up or down, if you need to precisely tweak its elevation slightly, the projector’s mechanical lens shift that can raise or lower it by 2.5-percent. Rather than the joystick on BenQ’s SH940 or motorized shifting that can be remotely controlled, you need to turn a knob that’s under a door above the lens. Once it’s set, there’s no way to lock the lens shift knob in place.

Web Control

If the SU931 is being set up in a facility that uses Crestron or AMX device control systems, the SU931 can easily fit in. It has built-in networking and you can plug the projector directly into the building’s wired Ethernet network. After making the system discoverable to AMX systems in the projector’s Menu system, it should connect right away.



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Most of what you can do with the SU931's remote control or Menu can be done with its Web controls.


There’s another way for those that don’t use Crestron or AMX control systems.  Once it’s plugged into a facility’s network, type the projector’s IP address into a browser window to bring up a remote control screen. At this point, its LAN control screen comes up, allowing you to do anything that’s available in the Menu. On the downside, the look is quite different from the remote control or Menu.

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